Posted on Categories Computer Science, Opinion, RantsTags , 1 Comment on Map Reduce: A Good Idea

Map Reduce: A Good Idea

Some time ago I subscribed to The Database Column because it would be fun to see what these incredible people wanted to discuss. We owe much of our current database technology to Professor Stonebraker and Vertica sounds like an incredible product. And I definitely want to continue to subscribe.

However, the reading experience is marred by some flaw in their RSS system that keeps marking the article “MapReduce: A major step backwards” as a new article. This causes the article to appear in my RSS reader every few weeks as “new.” This wouldn’t bother me too much except that the article runs so counter to experience that it is itself offensive.
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Posted on Categories Computer Science, Opinion, RantsTags 4 Comments on I know, I am the one being a jerk

I know, I am the one being a jerk

The other day’s blog post and a recent Andrew Binstock interview of Donald Knuth made me think more about how the ACM is really not serving the interests of computer science. Continue reading I know, I am the one being a jerk

Posted on Categories Computer Science, OpinionTags , 3 Comments on Sorting Used in Anger

Sorting Used in Anger

“Sorting Used in Anger” (A rambling glimpse into the mind of a theorist)
Author: John Mount
4-24-2008

The other day I had a bit of time to kill before an appointment. Luck was with me: there was a nearby bookstore and I was able to pass some of the time skimming through a book called “Beautiful Code.” Everything started out fun and nostalgic. The book title reminded me of “The Art of Computer Programming” (a book that probably did as much through the grace of its title as it did through its incredible contents to attract minds into theoretical computer science). One of the chapters of “Beautiful Code” was by Jon Bentley (a hero of sharp reasoning and clever coding) and as I flipped to the chapter my day was ruined. There it was: Quicksort an algorithm that I have a long love and hate relationship with.

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Posted on Categories Computer Science, HistoryTags ,

Hello World: An Instance Of Rhetoric in Computer Science

Hello World: An Instance Of Rhetoric in Computer Science
John Mount: jmount@mzlabs.com

February 19, 2008

Computer scientists have usually dodged questions of intent, purpose or meaning. While there are theories that assign deep mathematical meaning to computer programs[13] we computer scientists usually avoid discussion of meaning and talk more about utility and benefit. Discussions of the rhetorical meaning of programs is even less common. However, there is a famous computer program that has a clean an important rhetorical point. This program is called “hello world” and its entire action is to write out the phrase “hello world.” The action is simple but the “hello world” program actually has a fairly significant purpose and meaning.

I would like to briefly trace the known history of “hello world” and show how the rhetorical message it presents differs from the rhetoric embodied in earlier programs. In this sense we can trace a change in the message computer scientists felt they needed to communicate (most likely due to changes in the outside world).

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